Nikitin Dheer’s first web series Raktanchal is now streaming on MX Player. In an exclusive chat with indianexpress.com, Nikitin got candid about playing mafia lord Waseem Khan in the crime drama, the web medium, and his Tangaballi character from Chennai Express.
Here are excerpts from the conversation:
Q. What prompted you to take up Raktanchal?
Our country, with its diverse culture and dialects, allows amazing storytelling. The character of Waseem Khan in Raktanchal is something I hadn’t attempted earlier. A lot of it is fictionalised based on incidents from the 80s, which I found interestingly woven into a show.
Q. Raktanchal is set in the 1980s. Was it difficult to adapt to that era? Any reference point for your character?
I’ve been an avid Bollywood fan and have grown up watching Hindi movies. I’m a child of the 80s, so a lot of reference comes from there. At the same time, I used a lot of my own imagination and with the help of our director and team, it became easy to do. It was shot in Varanasi, which in itself is a beautiful ancient city. The more you travel, the more you understand people and their mindsets. As an actor, you are used to exploring things which are alien to you.
Q. How will Raktanchal be any different from other shows on web?
Ultimately, everything has an audience. Either you’ll tell unexplored stories of society from a particular era or there will be frothy love stories and comedy. All kinds of web series are being made because the audience has evolved and wants to see different kinds of content. Now is the best time to narrate a story. The audience is allowing a story to be told, without jumping to conclusions and understanding it from a human perspective.
Q. Will Raktanchal releasing during the lockdown give it an advantage?
Our show was supposed to come at the end of April. It actually got delayed. We finished shooting in January and because of the lockdown, all the post-production happened from home. But, yes, it’s true that due to the lockdown, the audience has gone through a lot of content across various platforms and the consumption has increased.
Q. You’ve worked in almost all mediums, across languages. Which one has been the most fun?
If a character is interesting and there’s a good team to work with, it’s fun. For an actor, it is just him and the camera. The process in films is more relaxed. On web, it’s more like a marriage between television and film. TV is a great learning platform, no matter at what level you are as an actor. Everything has its advantages and no actor can be bigger than the medium.
Q. Fans still remember you as Tangaballi. Does it ever frustrate you?
Not at all! I’m thankful because for any actor, there are only three or four roles that become important in their lifetime. I wish to get a few more such roles, for which people remember me. I feel very proud of Chennai Express and that I could portray Tangaballi. There’s no point of frustration. Love is always humbling. Now, I feel very happy to start my web career with Waseem Khan and hope people remember me with this character too.
Q. Your father Pankaj Dheer was trending again due to the Mahabharat rerun. What memories do you have of the show?
That show is really special to me. When I was little, I used to watch the shooting on Sundays. It made me feel that acting is something I would love to do. I can’t even explain the kind of fun and camaraderie they had on sets. The older generation of actors have this amazing bond which we lack. During the rerun, I spoke to all the actors that I had grown up watching. I used to discuss scenes with my dad and how they did it back then. They deserve all the adulation as it is a very tough genre. I have witnessed the kind of success these people have seen. It was unreal.
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